Volvo Trucks has announced its intention to build a new 3D printing facility at its New River Valley plant in Dublin, Virginia. The Swedish company knows a lot about 3D technology already, and its engineers have reaped the fruits from it numerous times before.
The first time that Volvo realized the amazing potential that 3D printers can have in their prototyping process was in 2015, when their facility in Lyon, France, began using Stratasys printers. The decrease in the turnaround was staggering, reaching 94%, so adopting this tech globally was a no-brainer. In the years that followed, Volvo broke the limits of prototyping and implemented additive manufacturing techniques in production as well, using selective laser sintering (SLS) printers.
Volvo Trucks used 3D printing technology to develop a one-piece diffuser used in the paint atomizer cleaning process, saving the firm more than $1,000 per part, as well as eliminating the need for a multiple-piece component. (Volvo Trucks North America)
There are specific benefits that come from being able to create one-piece parts like a diffuser, or a power steering adapter holder, or luggage door gap gauges, hood drilling fixtures, brake valve fitting gauges, vacuum drill ducts, and a lot more. 3D printing is saving Volvo hundreds of thousands of dollars already, and they see no reason why they shouldn’t try to get the most out of it.
The NRV plant is the home of all Volvo trucks that end up in the American market. Bringing SLS printing there will make it possible to reach new production levels, and materialize new design approaches. By eliminating the need for outsourced parts, the costs will drop, the availability will increase, and the local inventory management will get more versatile and elastic.
These cost benefits will be eventually passed to the customers in the United States, who really value the Volvo brand name. Finally, bringing SLS to NRV will open up new opportunities for continues improvement and production optimization for all Volvo manufacturing plants around the world.